The Feed: Gen Z emotionalise the workplace, Aliyahcore reclaims ‘alt looks’ & ‘Soft hikers’ redefine hiking

In The Feed

This month, The Feed has covered new and surprising trends on social, from Gen Z emotionalising the workplace, Aliyahcore reclaiming ‘alt looks’, to ‘soft hikers’ refining what hiking looks like. Read all about them and what they mean in this month’s roundup.

Don’t miss a beat when you follow our editorially-led Instagram publication, The Feed, which tracks culture at the speed of social to maximise impact for brands.

Gen Z are emotionalising the workplace with ‘chaotic working’

If ‘quiet quitting’ was Gen Z’s first pushback against work culture, ‘chaotic working’ is their next edit. Quiet quitting was calm: people put in the minimum effort to coast by at work, instead of hustling. Now, chaotic working is a louder style of resistance, marked by floods of TikToks showing theatrically unhinged or proudly annoying behaviour in the workplace. Rooted in anti-corporate values, chaotic working swaps ‘acting professionally’ for either acting *emotionally* (like: dancing maniacally during a meeting) or acting *communally* (like: giving people employee discounts or waiving their overdraft fees).

What does the preference for ‘chaotic working’ mean for how the workers of tomorrow find meaning and satisfaction in their professional lives?

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Aliyahcore is reclaiming ‘alt looks’ on behalf of POC’s

By now, another -core on the internet isn’t newsworthy. But Aliyahcore, brainchild of 19-year-old Aliyah Bah, is notable not for its aesthetic, but for the values behind it. Described as “a hodgepodge of Y2K, alternative and harajuku style”, the style is designed to subvert expectations of how Black women should dress. “When I see a lot of dark skinned girls dressed up in Aliyahcore, it makes me really happy because I never saw it growing up,” says Bah. I love that because for the longest time ever we were never really given the space to be alternative just because it was always seen as something that white people did.”

How does Aliyahcore tie into TikTok’s wider set of #altpoc movements (266M views) in which people of colour are reappropriating ‘alternative’ subcultures, like punk and goth? And what does it mean about how aesthetic tribes – from the country music look, alternative, or hipster – are intersecting with marginalised identities?

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‘Soft hikers’ are reclaiming a casual approach to outdoorsy identities 

On TikTok, hiking content has upwards of 9 billion views, much of which involves dedicated, athletic bodies decked out in hiking gear, but beyond the Patagonia-clad men on lofty mountaintops, a new genre of content has emerged. Girls in casual trainers strolling through fields of flowers; meandering up to picnic benches to take in natural beauty without breaking a sweat – this is ‘soft hiking’, a casual content genre for those that want to ‘experience nature mildly’ rather than being driven by goals or milestones.

On one level, soft hiking content aims to prove that hiking doesn’t have to be hard – as in, literally difficult. But beyond that, their aim to debunk the idea of the ‘hard hiker’ – as in, people who *identify* strongly with hiking culture. In Think Forward 2023, We Are Social outlined a social media landscape where more extreme behaviour is seen as more authentic. Soft hiking is a backlash to that – a pushback against the idea that identities have to be intense to be genuine.

The #softhiking hashtag is gaining traction on TikTok, with almost a million views within a month of @softgirlswhohike’s first post (TikTok, 2023).

Sportswear brands can expand their audiences by looking beyond the hikers to the soft hikers. Beyond that, for brands that engage in any identity-based space, from sports to cuisine to fashion, how can they work to make dilettantes, dabblers, and casual fans feel welcome?

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